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Thursday, April 27, 2023

President Marcos Observes Balikatan 2023 Live-fire Sea Drills in Zambales

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. Marcos on Wednesday, April 26, witnessed the live-fire sea drills involving the sinking of an old Philippines Navy ship, hoping the country could benefit from enhanced cooperation with the United States.

During the drills some 2.8 kilometers from the Naval Education Training Doctrine Command (NETDC) in San Antonio, Zambales, U.S. and Philippine combat units participated in a combined joint littoral live-fire exercise, culminating the field training event for Balikatan 2023.

Approximately 1,400 Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Coast Guardsmen from both countries took part in the Combined Joint Littoral Live Fire Exercise (CJLLFX), which involved detecting, identifying, targeting and engaging a target ship using a variety of ground and air-based weapons systems.

The exercise featured U.S. and Philippine weapons platforms delivering coordinated fires on a target ship, a decommissioned Philippine Navy corvette towed into Philippine territorial waters.

The bilateral weapons systems used in the war games consisted of U.S. and Philippine artillery, High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and the Avenger air defense systems.

State-of-the-art combat aircrafts were also mobilized including AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Philippine Air Force FA-50 Golden Eagle fighter-attack aircraft, F-16 Fighting Falcons, U.S. Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, and the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command AC- 130 Spectre gunship.

One of the most anticipated weapons from the U.S. arsenal was the HIMARS, a full-spectrum, combat-proven, all-weather, 24/7, lethal and responsive, wheeled precision strike weapons system.

HIMARS is a C-130 air transportable wheeled launcher mounted on a 5-ton Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles XM1140A1 truck chassis organic/assigned to Field Artillery Brigades.

Built to support an expeditionary, lethal, survivable and tactically mobile force, the HIMARS carries one launch pod containing either six Guided MLRS (GMLRS)/MLRS rockets or one Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile.

During the littoral live-fire event, a U.S. Marine Corps command and control and sensor network enabled the various firing platforms to sense their target, develop firing solutions and deliver precision integrated fires against the target vessel.

According to Filipino and American military officials, the training event represented a tangible demonstration of the U.S.-Philippine commitment to strengthen military capabilities and interoperability to meet shared modern-day security challenges.

Balikatan, a Tagalog term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “sharing the load together,” is the largest annual exercise between the two allies and 2023 marks its 38th iteration and the largest iteration to date.

It provides an opportunity for the two armed forces to enhance cooperation, increase capabilities and improve interoperability in conflict situation and disaster response.

A focus point in Balikatan 2023 was bilateral integration of command and control, sensors and multi-domain fires.

Approximately 17,600 participants are taking part in the exercise, developing interoperability and enhancing bilateral capabilities in the areas of maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban and aviation operations, cyber defense, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness.

Among key Philippine officials who attended were AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, Zambales 2nd District Rep. Doris Maniquiz and Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

For the US side, the attendees were Ambassador of the US to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford, and US Exercise Director Lt. Gen. William Jurney.

The Philippines is a key U.S. ally and the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance, equipment, and training in the region.

The U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1951 and is America’s longest standing defense treaty in the Indo-Pacific region.


Filipino American Assemblymember Steven Raga Celebrates 100 Days in Office with Historic Legislative Achievements

– New York State Assemblymember Steven Raga recently completed his first 100 days in office, having made substantial progress through prime-sponsored and cosponsored legislation that addresses a diverse range of community needs and enhances the well-being of all New Yorkers.

In these initial 100 days, Assemblymember Raga has been the driving force behind three crucial pieces of legislation, one of which has been signed into law by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul:

  • A04016: Empowering residents of assisted living programs to access hospice services, thereby ensuring comprehensive end-of-life care (signed into law). 
  • A04453: Enhancing the transparency and accountability of government agencies in New York by addressing their ability to claim copyright protection.
  • A06512: Facilitating safety and coordination by providing notice to school districts and nonpublic schools in New York City of relevant construction projects.

Besides leading these legislative efforts, Assemblymember Raga has shown his dedication to a broad spectrum of issues by co-sponsoring more than 250 bills and over 50 resolutions. The legislation he supports encompasses various sectors, such as education, housing, healthcare, the environment, social justice, and economic development.

Assemblymember Raga stated, "I am honored by the progress we have achieved during my first 100 days in office. Collaborating with my colleagues and constituents, we are addressing urgent concerns and effecting meaningful change in the lives of New Yorkers. I eagerly anticipate building on this momentum and accomplishing even more in the months to come."

The accomplishments of Assemblymember Raga's first 100 days lay a robust foundation for ongoing success in serving the people of New York. Committed to heeding the voices of his constituents, Assemblymember Raga will continue advocating for policies that promote the well-being and prosperity of residents in Assembly District 30 and throughout the state.


Marcos Administration's Top Economic Managers Invite U.S. Businesses to Invest in the Philippines

Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez delivers his opening remarks at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) at the Fairmont Hotel Georgetown.

 – The Philippines, with its sustained economic growth, showcased its investment opportunities and economic reforms to the U.S. business sector at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) held at the Fairmont Hotel Georgetown, Washington, D.C. last April 12. 

Co-organized by the Department of Finance, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C., the event drew more than 150 participants from the business community – including those from the U.S. West Coast, think tanks, U.S. government agencies.

The Philippine economic team was led by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and joined by joined by Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, National Economic and Development Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez delivered the opening remarks, underscoring that the Philippines is ready and open to engage the United States and the American business sector to increase trade and investments between the two countries. 

“Our security alliance with the U.S. is undoubtedly crucial, but ensuring economic security is equally critical to building a resilient and inclusive economy. By solidifying our alliance through more trade and investments, we can increase commerce, empower our people, and ensure a peaceful, secure, and prosperous region,” he said. 

He also shared President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s commitment to bring the Philippines to upper middle-income status through the implementation of economic reforms and legislative measures that will create a more inclusive, open and progressive economy, allowing more participation of foreign investments.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno leads the economic team at the PEB, joined by Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and BSP Governor Felipe Medalla.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno gave an overall picture of the current economic environment, starting with the country’s better-than-expected GDP growth of 7.6% in 2022. 

The Philippines’ sustained growth is attributed to the country’s firm macroeconomic fundamentals and continued improvement of its economic performance despite external headwinds. He outlined the Philippines’ economic strategy, which includes higher infrastructure spending that will ensure long-term and sustained growth. 

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman outlined the Philippines’ budget priorities, which include the social services sector, agriculture and food security, infrastructure, ICT, climate change, local government support, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla expressed confidence in the Philippines’ improving inflation and price stability, and the resilience of the banking and financial sector. He also underscored the improvements in the banking system that will expand participation of more Filipinos through digital systems. 

National Economic and Development Secretary Arsenio Balisacan highlighted the economic development programs, including the incentives, that will encourage investments in the country. These priority projects will ensure the sustained growth and translate to better lives for all Filipinos. 

Mr. Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brunei, noted during his remarks the sustained economic growth of the Philippines for the past ten years, except during the pandemic, and how it managed to recover. He also underscored the importance of infrastructure spending in the Philippines and stressed that these measures will help transform the Philippine economy in the coming years.


Opinion: Marcos Jr. Will go to U.S. with "Lingering Scandal of Electoral Manipulation"; Robredo has Five Life Instructions; Congratulations to Loida Lewis on Successful Book Tour; FilAm Miss Universe will Join PIDCI Parade in NYC By Manuel L. Caballero




At the beginning of his 11th month in office, Pres. Marcos, Jr. Is embarking on his 11th, 12th and 13th trips outside the Philippines.

During the first two weeks of May, he will travel to Washington D.C., to meet with Pres. Biden on defense and economic matters, and possibly, about China's aggressive posturings; to England , to attend the coronation of King Charles and to Indonesia to attend the ASEAN meeting.

Mr. Marcos,  Jr. will travel with a big question mark over his head as to his "election" as president. 

A former Australian senator who observed the May 9, 2022 election together with other members of an International Observation Team, has said she did not think Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte were legitimately elected . Among the reasons cited were massive vote-buying and voter intimidations.

Four non-partisan groups in the PH have been seeking the truth  about the apparent anomalies (in COMELEC) that surrounded the 2022 election. A related case is pending in the Supreme Court of the PH. A related people's petitiion

online is ongoing. Filipinos at home and abroad are getting involved and concerned.

 In the words of  respected Manila columnist Randy David, the situation for Mr. Marcos, Jr. is a "lingering scandal of electoral manipulation."


It is interesting to note that members of the 9 pro Leni Gerona Robredo  chat groups formed during the 2022 election season in New Jersey and New York areas are still actively participating on Leni-related matters. On the former  VP's birthday last April 23, a good number posted their reactions and greetings. Hindi sila bumibitiw.

The chat groups are: Pink Caravan Jersey City; Leni Tri-State  Circle; Union Township for Leni; Leni Is My President; Pink Caravan For Leni Union; Fil-Am of Tri-State; Bergenfield Pink Caravan; God Bless Our Beloved Philippines and United for Leni North  America.

The former VP has 5 life instructions that she shared, especially for young people. Those 5 are:

1. There is no free lunch. Whatever you want, work for it.

2. Daig ng masipag ang mahusay. A hard worker is better than a good one.

3. You are measured by the things that you do constantly and consistently.

4. Character is more important than all competencies combined.

5. We are what we tolerate.

To us, the last one means that if a group of people will just allow corruption, anomalies and lies to continue in their midst,  that's what they will become.


Kudos to Loida Nicolas Lewis on her successful book launch and tour which took her to three States (New York, Illinois and California). Her autobiography, "Why Should Guys Have All The Fun" received warm welcome from readers in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Covina. San Diego County in California even declared one day as Loida Nicolas Lewis Day in the county to honor the Filipina American author. Again, congratulations, Loida!


Moppet-Maria Villasin Nucum , in an FB post, announced the participation of FilAm Miss Universe 2022 R. BONNEY NOLA GABRIEL in the June 4 PIDCI Parade in New York City. 

Can't wait!


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Philippine Consulate in New York Conducts a Know-Your-Rights Webinar on Workers Rights

The Consulate held a Know-Your-Rights (KYR) webinar on 05 April 2023 with guest speaker Ms. Mirna Velasquez, Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Consular Affairs of the New York State’s Department of Labor (DOL), who gave a presentation on workers’ rights under New York’s state laws.

The webinar was attended by at least 55 overseas Filipino workers, mostly Filipino nurses and homecare health workers.

Key takeaways from the webinar include the state’s prescribed minimum wage and overtime pay, and the Family Medical Leave Act, the Salary History Law, and the law against employer’s retaliation. Ms. Velasquez also shared information on services provided by the DOL including the implementation of labor policies, protection of wages, enforcement of safety and health standards, job placement and job matching, career development counseling, and unemployment insurance.

The key points raised in the webinar is accessible in this link:  Meanwhile, the “Workers’ Bill of Rights Booklet” is available in 15 languages including Tagalog, at  for the information of our Filipino workers in the United States.

Post will host another KYR webinar in May 2023.


Mayor Adams Urges Biden Administration to Provide Expedited, Emergency Paths to Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers Ahead of Title 42 Lifting

NEW YORK – As Republican leaders in Congress continue to refuse to provide any support for cities or states that have seen a mass influx of asylum seekers, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, members of the Adams administration, and elected officials on Wednesday, April 19, urged the Biden administration to immediately enhance paths to work authorization for asylum seekers currently in the U.S. and those who continue to arrive every day. It has been approximately one year since asylum seekers first started to be bussed to the five boroughs, and New York City still continues to receive approximately 200 asylum seekers each day — a number that’s only expected to grow following the lifting of Title 42 on May 11, 2023.

  • Given the continued worsening humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sudan, South Sudan, and Cameroon, re-designating TPS to a more recent date and extending the eligibility period would allow a higher number of asylum seekers to access TPS protection. TPS-eligible individuals are able to receive work authorization for the duration of their TPS. 
  • Providing access to humanitarian parole for asylum seekers in the United States and those crossing the border and allowing them to extend, as necessary, will further expedite access to work authorization. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security can exercise their discretion to provide humanitarian parole to individuals at the border and already in the United States, who can then apply for work authorization. 
  • Surging additional USCIS officers to process key application types may dramatically reduce TPS and work authorization application processing times, including for individuals with pending asylum applications.

Mayor Adams is calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for migrants coming from Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sudan, South Sudan, and Cameroon, to expand access to humanitarian parole for newly arriving asylum seekers and asylum seekers already in the United States, and to increase the number of and reassign existing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers to reduce application processing times. All of these actions can immediately be taken by the executive branch of the federal government and without legislation being passed by Republican leaders in Congress who refuse to offer any support for the ongoing crisis.

“As a city, we have done everything in our power to provide support to the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived at our doorstep,” said Mayor Adams. “While New York City has shouldered the costs of this crisis largely alone, we have always said that this is a national crisis that requires a coordinated, comprehensive response from the federal government. To deny people the ability to work legally sets them up for failure. The actions we’re urging our federal partners to do, all of which can be done without support from the Republican leaders in Congress who refuse to do their jobs, will ensure that asylum seekers in New York City, and across the country, can do what they came here to do — work lawfully and build stable lives.”

“While our administration has been leading the charge to respond to this humanitarian crisis, we need the federal government to support a nationwide strategy,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro. “Thousands of recently arrived New Yorkers, unable to return to their home countries due to dangerous and unsafe circumstances, can be protected through TPS and humanitarian parole.”

The Adams administration has been calling upon the federal and state governments to provide additional support to address the influx of asylum seekers since last year. Today’s call lays out three concrete steps that the executive branch of the federal government can immediately take to expedite work authorization for asylum seekers:

As of March 31, 2023, New York City alone has incurred more than $817 million in costs related to housing and caring for the asylum seeker population. Over Fiscal Year 2023, the city anticipates spending $1.4 billion, and $2.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2024. This means an estimated total of $4.3 billion will be spent by June 30, 2024. 

Despite calls for additional support for months, New York City faces these costs alone, without adequate support from the federal or state governments. This is an unsustainable fiscal burden that strains the city’s budget and places at risk funding for programs and services that benefit New Yorkers.


Friday, April 21, 2023

President Marcos to Embark on an Official Visit to the United States

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will travel to Washington, D.C. from 30 April to 04 May 2023 on an official visit aimed at reaffirming the special relationship between the Philippines and the United States. The President’s itinerary will begin on 01 May with a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, followed by an expanded meeting with key Cabinet officials.

The visit will reaffirm the bonds of friendship that give definition and significance to the many facets of the bilateral relationship, underpinned by the close affinity shared by Filipinos and Americans alike for many years. It will substantively progress efforts to further deepen relations and political ties, to bring about lasting socio-economic partnerships, as well as to enhance defense and security cooperation.

The President is expected to advance the Philippines’ socio-economic and development priorities and harness closer partnership in such areas as agriculture, energy, climate change, digital transformation and technology, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supply chains, and infrastructure. The United States is a major bilateral trade and official development assistance partner, and maintains a shared commitment with the Philippines for more dynamic economic relations.

The trip will highlight the steadfast commitment by both sides to be reliable and resilient allies and partners in times of crisis and prosperity, amid a challenging global and regional environment.